How AFFF Firefighter Foam Is Related to Immune System Disorders?
Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) is a vital tool used in industries and firefighting operations to put out fires effectively. It works by creating a film that covers flames, stopping them and preventing re-ignition.
Research has shown that exposure to PFAS chemicals found in AFFF can have serious consequences on the immune system. For instance, these compounds may disrupt the normal functioning of the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections, allergies, and autoimmune disorders.
What Is AFFF Used For?
The primary purpose of AFFF is to rapidly extinguish and control fires involving flammable liquids, such as gasoline, jet fuel, and oil. Its ability to form a film helps smother the flames, preventing their spread and rekindling. This makes AFFF invaluable in firefighting operations where liquid fuel fires pose a significant hazard.
AFFF is used in various industries beyond firefighting, such as oil refineries, chemical plants, airports, and military facilities. Moreover, AFFF is also used in storage tank facilities and specific manufacturing processes involving volatile liquids.
How Does AFFF Harm Human Immune Function?
The immune function is compromised by AFFF mainly due to the presence of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in its formula. PFAS are man-made chemicals recognized for their resistance in nature and possible negative health impacts. As AFFF with PFAS is applied and released, it can expose humans through ingestion, inhalation, or skin interaction, causing harm.
Studies suggest that PFAS exposure leads to immune suppression, reduced response to infections, and higher vulnerability. Moreover, PFAS is associated with an increased risk of autoimmune disorders, where the immune system mistakenly targets healthy cells.
What Are the Immune-Related Health Effects of PFAS?
The immune system is a crucial defense mechanism that safeguards the body from diseases and infections. However, exposure to per and fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has shown significant associations that impact immune system function and cause adverse effects on human health.
Here’s how PFAS exposure can impact immunity:
- Immune System Disruption and Suppression
Epidemiological evidence shows that PFAS exposure can disturb the regular functioning of the immune system. This disruption results in a diminished immune response, causing immune suppression and lowering the body’s proficiency in combating infections. Moreover, these effects are worse on people with a genetic susceptibility to a weak immune system.
- Altered Immune Cell Communication
PFAS can interfere with the communication between immune cells, impairing their ability to coordinate and mount appropriate immune responses. This disruption can result in an imbalanced immune system that may struggle to respond to pathogens adequately.
- Modulation of Inflammatory Responses
Increased PFAS concentrations in the blood due to exposure have been shown to modulate inflammatory responses in the body. Inflammation is a critical immune response that helps fight off infections. However, prolonged or dysregulated inflammation caused by PFAS exposure can disrupt the normal immune response, potentially leading to chronic inflammation and associated health issues.
- Increased Susceptibility to Infections
Elevated PFAS levels in the bloodstream have been associated with a higher susceptibility to infectious illnesses, such as lower respiratory tract infections. The lower immune responses and decreased antibody production resulting from PFAS exposure can heighten an individual’s vulnerability to bacterial, viral, and fungal infection
- Impaired Vaccine Response
A compromised immune system resulting from AFFF exposure may lead to an altered vaccine response. Vaccines rely on the immune system’s ability to mount an appropriate response to generate immunity against specific pathogens. Therefore, immune suppression or reduced vaccine antibody response caused by AFFF exposure can potentially interfere with the vaccine’s effectiveness.
- Risk of Autoimmune Disorders
Epidemiological studies suggest a potential connection between PFAS exposure and autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues. PFAS exposure may contribute to developing or exacerbating autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or autoimmune thyroid disease.
Who Is at Higher Risk of PFAS Exposure?
Individuals living in areas contaminated with AFFF or those with occupational exposure to firefighting foam are at higher risks of developing immune-related. The following groups may be more exposed to AFFF-related health concerns:
Firefighters regularly handle AFFF during firefighting operations, putting themselves at significant risk of exposure to PFAS in the foam.
Military personnel, especially those involved in firefighting or training exercises that utilize AFFF, are also at a heightened risk of exposure to PFAS.
Workers in industries involved in the manufacturing, producing, or using chemicals, including AFFF, may face an increased risk of exposure to PFAS chemicals like PFOA and PFOS.
Airport and Aviation Workers
Workers in industries involved in the manufacturing, production, and distribution of firefighting foam may face an increased risk of exposure to PFAS.
Individuals Living near Fire Training Sites or Disposal Facilities
Communities near fire training sites or disposal facilities with AFFF usage or storage may experience increased exposure risks. Contamination of groundwater and surrounding environments can occur, potentially impacting nearby residents.
Consumers of PFAS-Contaminated Water
Individuals who drink water contaminated with PFAS may face exposure risks. Contamination of drinking water can result from industrial discharges, improper waste disposal, or proximity to areas where AFFF is frequently used.
PFAS compounds can cross the placental barrier, leading to prenatal exposure to the developing immune system of the fetus. Prenatal PFAS exposure has been associated with various health concerns, including:
- Potential impacts on fetal growth
- Immune system development
- Long-term health outcomes
Genetically Susceptible Individuals
Specific genetic differences can affect how well a person can process or remove PFAS from their body, which could result in elevated PFAS levels and a greater likelihood of experiencing negative health effects.
What to Do if You Develop Autoimmune Diseases Due to AFFF?
Experiencing autoimmune diseases can be distressing for individuals who suspect that their health has been compromised. If you believe that AFFF exposure has led to the development of autoimmune diseases, you might find the following steps helpful to navigate the situation:
Step 1: Seek Medical Attention
The first and most crucial step is to seek medical care from qualified healthcare professionals who can diagnose and treat autoimmune diseases. Establishing a clear medical record documenting the condition and its potential connection to AFFF exposure is essential.
Step 2: Gather Documentation
Collect relevant medical records, including diagnosis reports, test results, and treatment plans. Additionally, record AFFF exposure history, including details about the exposure duration, frequency, and intensity.
Step 3: Consult with an AFFF Lawyer
Consider consulting with a firefighting foam lawyer specializing in toxic mass tort cases. They can provide legal advice tailored to your situation and assess the viability of a potential firefighting foam lawsuit.
Step 4: AFFF Lawsuit Evaluation
If your firefighting foam attorney believes there may be a case, they can guide you through evaluating the merits of the AFFF lawsuit. A lawyer will consider factors such as the strength of the scientific evidence linking AFFF exposure to your autoimmune diseases, the applicable laws and regulations, and the potential liability of relevant parties.
Step 5: Take Legal Actions
Depending on the circumstances, your firefighting foam lawyer may recommend pursuing legal actions such as filing an AFFF lawsuit against responsible parties. This may involve seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income, and other damages resulting from your autoimmune disease related to AFFF exposure.
Step 6: Join a Class Action Lawsuit
In some cases, individuals with similar claims may join a class action lawsuit. This allows a group of plaintiffs to collectively seek compensation for damages caused by a common issue, such as AFFF exposure and resulting autoimmune diseases.
Don’t Face AFFF Exposure Alone – Consult With Uptown Injury
Has exposure to AFFF left you battling immune system disorders? You don’t have to face these challenges alone. Uptown Injury is here to fight for your rights and help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
Our team of dedicated firefighting foam attorneys specializes in toxic mass tort cases, and we are committed to providing personalized support to our clients. Our compassionate legal experts are ready to listen, understand your case, and guide a path toward the resolution you deserve. Don’t let the burden of medical expenses and suffering weigh you down.
Contact us today at 917-540-8728 to schedule a risk-free, no-obligation consultation.
What Is the Connection Between AFFF and Immune System Disorders?
AFFF contains per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been associated with immune system effects. Further, prolonged or excessive PFAS exposure in AFFF can lead to immune suppression, increased susceptibility to infections, and a higher risk of autoimmune diseases.
Can I File a Lawsuit if I Develop Immune System Disorders Due to AFFF Exposure?
If you have developed immune system disorders due to AFFF exposure, you may be eligible to file a firefighting foam lawsuit. Additionally, consult with an AFFF lawyer experienced in handling fire fighting foam cases. They will help you understand your legal options and guide you through the process.
How Can a Firefighting Foam Lawyer Help Me With an AFFF Lawsuit?
An experienced firefighting foam lawyer can assess the strength of your case, gather evidence linking your AFFF exposure, navigate the legal process, and advocate for your rights. Moreover, an AFFF lawyer can help you pursue compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages caused by immune system disorders.
Are There Any Time Limits for Filing an AFFF Lawsuit?
Yes, each personal injury case has a statute of limitations that set time limits for filing AFFF lawsuits. The specific time limits vary by jurisdiction and depend on factors such as the time of injury discovery. However, consulting with an AFFF lawyer will ensure that you meet the applicable deadlines.
How Do I Choose the Right AFFF Lawyer for My Case?
When selecting an AFFF attorney, consider the lawyer’s experience handling similar cases, track record of success, knowledge of toxic mass tort cases, and dedication to client advocacy. Schedule consultations with multiple AFFF lawyers to find the one who best understands your situation and with whom you feel comfortable working.
Will I Have to Go to Court for My AFFF Lawsuit?
No, not all AFFF lawsuits go to court. A lot of times, cases settle through negotiations with the responsible parties. However, your case may proceed to trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached. Regardless, your firefighting foam lawyer will advocate for your best interests and guide you through the entire legal process.
How Long Does an AFFF Lawsuit Typically Take to Resolve?
The duration of an AFFF lawsuit varies depending on factors such as the complexity of the firefighting foam case, the number of parties involved, and the court’s schedule. Some firefighting foam cases may settle quickly, while others may require more time for investigation, negotiation, or trial proceedings.